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Ann Coulter says conservatives "have the media." I guess George Bush hasn't gotten that memo yet, as this is how he politely declines to answer questions from the press:

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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"Revenge of the Sith," with dialogue translated into Chinese, then back into English:

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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E&P's Sam Smith gets it:

When Bob Whitehouse dropped Plame's identity on Miller, he immediately breached his contract with her. An agreement of confidentiality binds both parties, not just the reporter. When the source swears the journalist to secrecy, he/she incurs an obligation to behave ethically, as well. A reporter's good faith oath isn't a license of indenture, and it may not be played in bad faith to place a reporter in undue jeopardy. If Whitehouse breaks that trust, the reporter is no longer under any obligation whatsoever to protect his name.

Miller needed to step back and say "thanks Bob, but no thanks -- you're the story now." Reporters are obligated to the truth, and allowing themselves to be pimped by those who would use them as tools against the truth is a crime against the profession and the society it serves. Protecting that which you are bound to expose is malpractice."

Judith Miller is choosing to martyr herself against common sense, journalistic integrity and the Times's own policy on revealing source (that is, sources that use you to pass disinformation must be burned). Fuck her.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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So what does George Bush have to say after London is bombed?

"We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," Bush said.

Unbelievable. Up is down.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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The second quarter was a little slower than the first for new music, but the good stuff that did arrive was very good indeed. I expect at least three of these to wind up on my best of 2005 list, and right now Motion City Soundtrack is at the top.

Commit This to Memory took two listens to establish itself atop the year's list; the first time, "Everything Is Alright" -- the year's best single -- was all that stuck out, and then the rest followed. Standing a degree of magnitude above the quite good 2005 crop, this is both a magnificent Moog-rock album and an amazing collection of singles. It drives forward even more headstrong than I Am the Movie did and barely has a weak spot in 12 tracks. I just wish they weren't spending so goddamn much time on festival tours and would come back to town for a club show.
I've been listening to an unmastered advance of Making Beds in a Burning House since last fall and it took a while to grow on me. I listened to it a lot before they played a show here in March, and got the sense of a modernized version of early R.E.M. -- an indie guitar rock extravaganza with melodies too catchy and lyrics too clever to resist. "Bees" and "Jackpot Stampede Deluxe" are great, and I hope the band's arrival on Lookout! will be enough to break them into real success. (Unfortunately, I'm not seeing them tonight because their Madison show was hijacked by a major label AAA act called Blue Merle, raising the ticket price and lowering the TH content.)
A couple years ago, I found myself reflexively hating Hot Hot Heat, primarily because I didn't like most of the bands that they were being linked with -- the Strokes on one end, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the other. But really, I never gave Make Up the Breakdown a chance, and when Elevator came out, I figured I ought to give it a good faith try. I'm glad I did, because it's loaded with poppy jangle-dance material that, unfortunately, is great for Verizon Wireless ads.
Mezmerize is the most important metal album since probably ...And Justice For All. It also works with a mainstream political edge that real metal has never quite done this successfully (I don't see Rage as really being all that metalish). I'm honestly surprised that the explicitly political, and just plain explicit "B.Y.O.B." made it onto Saturday Night Live. The whole album is hard but radio-friendly; I'm thinking this fall's follow-up, Hypnotize, will be... harder.
Indie rock as a whole has stagnated over the last few years. Trend chasers have produced the same kinds of mall-punk, screamo and "dance" rock over and over and over lately. For my money it's the post-hardcore bands like Minus the Bear, Piebald or Cave In that are doing the most interesting stuff these days, and Volcano fits that bill perfectly. The first two tracks, "Theatre" and "Pompeii," kind of point to where Jawbox might have been heading if they hadn't turned into Burning Airlines. I've heard they're a little sloppy live, but I hope I have the chance to find out for myself this year.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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Ed Kilgore says the religious right is tired of being teased:

This appointment represents the giant balloon payment at the end of the mortgage the GOP signed with the Cultural Right at least 25 years ago. Social conservatives have agreed over and over again to missed payments, refinancings, and in their view, generous terms, but the balance is finally due, and if Bush doesn't pay up, they'll foreclose their entire alliance with the Republican Party.

I believe that Bush will send an extreme nominee to replace O'Connor, but I don't think it's specifically to appease the fundies -- it's to reignite the filibuster debate and get the rules changed before replacing Rehnquist. I don't buy Kilgore claim that the religious right will abandon the GOP if they're not happy with the pick, and the reason is that black voters still vote for Democrats at a rate of about 90%, even though the Democratic Party hasn't done much for black people in the last couple decades. While the black vote is not as organized a bloc as the religious conservative vote, and thus not as likely to up and quit the party all at once, I fail to see what the religious right will do. They won't vote Democrat, and they've been indoctrinated in the politicization of religion for a quarter century, so I don't see them just taking their votes and going home. A third party? It might work in some districts, but it wouldn't work nationally and it would definitely work their cause on balance.

Unfortunately, I doubt we'll ever know.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
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